Pig & Prince and its chef-owner Michael Carrino earned a three-star review from NJM shortly after it opened. So we were as surprised as anyone to hear the restaurant is closing after seven years. Pig & Prince made the announcement via Instagram, and with a message on its website homepage, saying only that they will be closing “after service on Saturday, June 8th.” Located in the historic restored waiting room of the old Lackawanna train station, the restaurant had made a name for itself with rustic-yet-nuanced creative American cuisine (transforming the “Pig” to please the “Prince,” i.e. diner, in its name). There’s no word yet as to the reason for the closure, but the invitation to final service at the end of the announcement makes it seem less bitter than unfortunate: “We hope to see you here at this historic landmark one last time before we say goodbye.” Pig & Prince Restaurant and Gastrolounge, 1 Lackawanna Plaza, Montclair.
—Mandara Ristorante and Pizzeria is finally open in West Caldwell, bringing the grand total of Italian restaurants from the Mandara family to 11. That hefty legacy started when Alfonso Mandara emigrated to Brooklyn from the Amalfi Coast, opening his first pizza shop in 1960. The newest addition to the restaurant empire, Mandara opened just a few weeks ago in a completely renovated space with a floor-to-ceiling wine cellar and two dining areas. As promised, there’s brick oven pizza, pastas and Italian entrees—think Fresh ricotta drizzled with truffle-infused honey, Gnocchi alla Sorrentina with basil pesto and plum tomatoes,or Clams Posillipo, clams that are steamed in a simple white wine and butter sauce with crushed red pepper. Luigi Tarantino, also currently a bartender at Sofia’s in Englewood and formerly of Employee’s Only in New York, consulted on what promises to be an inventive, sleek cocktail program. Mandara Ristorante and Pizzeria, 40 Clinton Road, West Caldwell; 973-226-3250
—Sticky’s The Finger Joint is a slightly less healthy mini-chain (see Greens and Grains below) but diets be damned, Jersey just got its first. Paramus is the first location of the upscale chicken finger chain, which has six other locations in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn, boasts antibiotic free chicken, 25 (or so) housemade sauces for dipping, and even murals by local graffiti artists at some locations. No word yet on Jersey’s artist. Sticky’s Finger Joint, 605 Bergen Town Center, Paramus; 201-250-8718
In the Works:
—The plant-based Greens and Grains mini-chain opened its first spot in 2015 but this month they should finally be opening their sixth restaurant in Middletown, preaching the gospel of healthy, mostly green and grain-based foods with a menu of grain bowls, salads, wraps, pitas, acai bowls, pitaya bowls, smoothies, fresh juices—pretty much anything that’s good for you and/or colorful. No exact opening date yet, but they’re hiring for all parts of the house for a (likely) June opening. Greens and Grains, 1040 Route 35 South, Middletown; No phone yet.
—Mama Rosa is among the next restaurants expected to open sometime this month underneath Barnegat 67, a 55-and-over rental community with a plaza and retail space in Barnegat. Mama Rosa’s owners Joe and Rosina Romeo also own Dolce Bagel and Pizza Café on Bay Avenue, and plan to keep it simple with lunch and dinner at their second restaurant with casual classics like panini and thin-crust pizza. Mama Rosa, Barnegat 67, 770 Lighthouse Road, Barnegat; no phone yet.
—The former owner of Harvest Bistro is bringing a new restaurant to Closter this fall. Russell Stern’s Stern and Bow already has a space on Schraalenburgh Road, so they’ll spend the next few months getting ready to turn out seasonal New American cuisine anchored by a wood-fired oven, a 33-foot marble raw bar, and local products everywhere from the kitchen to the craft cocktail menu. Chef Paul Gerard and Joe Costelo of Hoboken’s Antique Bar & Bakery assisted in developing the concept, and Stern is especially excited for the raw bar, which he hopes will create a distinct experience within the restaurant. Stern and Bow, 171 Schraalenburgh Road, Closter; no phone yet.
—Darren DeSumma had planned to bust out his revival of Weber’s Grill on White Horse Pike by Memorial Day, and while a few snags have slowed things at the dormant drive-thru, the grills should be hot in time for the Fourth of July. Weber’s Grill had been operating in the space since 1959 before it closed four years ago (there’s a second New Jersey location in Pennsauken). DeSumma found the space and decided to invest in it last year. The concept will remain classically no-frills, except for maybe a marked uptick in burger quality. Weber’s Grill, 105 South White Horse Pike, Stratford; no phone yet.Click here to leave a comment